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Reviewed by:
  • Re-Imagining Ukrainian Canadians: History, Politics, and Identity
  • Patryk Polec
Hinther, Rhonda L., and Jim Mochoruk – Re-Imagining Ukrainian Canadians: History, Politics, and Identity. Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2011. Pp. 482.

Re-Imagining Ukrainian Canadians is a refreshing look at the multi-layered lives of 20th-century Ukrainian-Canadians. Edited by Rhonda L. Hinther and Jim Mochoruk, the book is a collection of thirteen essays that look at the Ukrainian-Canadian immigrant experience through cultural, social, political and economic perspectives that span a wide range of communities across Canada, including Winnipeg, Ottawa, Northern Ontario and even the Maritimes. Those interested in the culture and politics of working-class Ukrainians and the Ukrainian-Canadian left-wing movement will find this book to be particularly appealing.

The majority of essays focus on working-class relations, progressive organizations and the pro-Communist Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA) that was the largest “ethnic” branch of the Communist Party of Canada (CPC). The authors tackle old questions with new approaches, drawing on oral histories, recent feminist, gender and identity theories, literary criticism and recently released Comintern documents. The contributors move beyond the introspective approach that has traditionally characterized the majority of ethnic studies in Canada, and they examine interethnic and transnational relations.

The book is divided into five parts: “New Approaches to Old Questions,” “Leaders and Intellectuals,” “Diplomacy and International Concerns,” “International Strife on the Left,” and “Everyday People.” Part 1 consists of sections written by Rhonda L. Hinther, Karen Gabert and Lindy Ledohowski. Drawing on oral histories, Hinther explores the generational and gender issues that shaped the postwar progressive Association of Ukrainian Canadians. She concludes that the Canadian-Ukrainian left declined because it was deeply marred by gendered intergenerational divisions that led to conflict and disunity in the movement’s ranks. Gabert’s essay, which draws on material culture, public history [End Page 209] and folklore, explores the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village and the “construction of an “ethnic” past for public consumption (13).”. Ledohowski offers an insightful literary exploration of Old World and New World culture and she analyses how generational tensions formed understandings of “Ukrainian-ness.”

Part 2 begins with Peter Melnycky’s biographical sketch of the Edmonton entrepreneur Paul Rudyk, which provides a unique glimpse into the emergence of a Ukrainian entrepreneurial class in western Canada and the “non-traditional economic lively-hoods” of Ukrainian peasant migrants (124). In his piece on Illia Kiriak, an important Ukrainian literary figure who penned a trilogy about the Ukrainian pioneer experience, Jars Balan explores the influence of the radical nationalist movement in the Old Country on Kiriak, and the development of a first generation of male Ukrainian-Canadian leaders and intellectuals (104). Part 2 concludes with Orest T. Martynowych’s fascinating examination of Ukrainian-Canadian supporters of fascism and Nazism who coalesced around the United Hetman Organization and the Ukrainian National Federation. Martynowych examines his subjects through a neutral lens, and although he states that Ukrainian-Canadian profascists never had a large following, he concludes that broader segments of the Ukrainian-Canadian community rarely opposed the Ukrainian pro-fascist’s anti-Semitism.

Part 3 focuses largely on transborder relations and situates the Canadian-Ukrainian experience into broader Canadian contexts, such as Ukrainian-Canadian and Soviet-Canadian relations. Jaroslav Petryshyn explores the “Ukrainian Question” vis-à-vis Canadian government policies towards the Soviet Union. He looks at the “pressure many Ukrainians in Canada exerted (mainly without success) on Canadian federal officials and agencies to recognize and advocate on behalf of an independent Ukraine (221).”. Serge Cipko examines a topic that has received very little scholarly attention, namely, the Soviet Union’s “Return to Homeland” movement during the Cold War. Cipko explains that the Canadian government looked to other countries when “attempting to formulate policies relating to the threat of its own wave of Ukrainian out-migration (222).” Finally, Jennifer Anderson focuses on the Canadian Soviet Friendship Society to explore how pro-Soviet Ukrainians tried to propagate a “positive” image of the Soviet Union throughout North America.

Part 4 challenges the traditionally accepted view that the Ukrainian-Canadian left, namely the Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association, was an orthodox franchise holder of the Soviet brand...


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